Forty Forward: Celebrating Four Decades of Opera in Pensacola
November 12, 2022 – 6:00 PM
To celebrate our 40th Anniversary Season, we are proud to present Forty Forward: Celebrating Four Decades of Opera in Pensacola, a special one-night-only gala concert like no other. Joined by the Pensacola Symphony Orchestra, Pensacola Children’s Chorus, the Choral Society of Pensacola, and our incredible Opera Chorus, we also welcome back some of our company’s most celebrated guest artists for a program of opera’s greatest arias and ensembles as we look back on our history and forward to the future of Pensacola Opera.
Cast and Creatives
Kara Shay Thomsonas Featured Soloist
Elise Quagliataas Featured Soloist
Grammy nominated mezzo-soprano ELISE QUAGLIATA has forged a dynamic career over the past twenty years, sought after for the beauty of her voice, her dramatic range and the charismatic hold she has on audiences everywhere. Well-known for shaping roles in new and contemporary opera, she has also been acclaimed for her performance of traditional works.
The artist’s previous seasons featured over 70 performances of Carmen for New York City Opera on tour in Europe, North America, Asia and the Middle East; on her return, she sang the role for summer audiences at New York City’s Bryant Park. This past season, her performance of Carmen with Pensacola Opera was one of the first operas to be seen in the country as the pandemic lockdown began to lift. The artist’s Carmen has been widely praised, “Quagliata’s dusky mezzo, dramatic acumen and pulchritude commanded attention” (Opera News).
Performances of new works, recent and upcoming, include an ensemble recording of Luna Pearl Woolf’s Fire and Flood, which earned a 2021 Grammy nomination. In July of 2022, Ms. Quagliata will premiere and be featured in Kristin Kuster’s A Thousand Acres in the leading role of Ginny. Based on the Pulitzer Prize winning book by Jane Smiley, with a libretto by Mark Campbell, the work has been commissioned by Des Moines Metro Opera to mark their fiftieth anniversary. In an upcoming season, she will premiere Paolo Prestini’s Edward Tulane, singing Pellegrina and the Older Doll, with Minnesota Opera.
Adam Diegelas Featured Soloist
Adam Diegel made his Metropolitan Opera début as Froh in Robert Lepage’s landmark production of Das Rheingold conducted by Maestro James Levine, and later reprised the performance under Fabio Luisi. Further appearances at The Met include Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly under Plácido Domingo and Ismaele in Nabucco under Paolo Carignani. This season Mr. Diegel returns to The Metropolitan Opera, and performs with Boston Lyric Opera, Knoxville Opera, Pensacola Opera, and Opera Louisiane.
Other notable recent U.S. engagements include: Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly at Atlanta Opera, Fort Worth Opera, Arizona Opera, Opera San Antonio, and Kentucky Opera; Ismaele in Nabucco at Opera Philadelphia; Cavaradossi in Tosca at Vancouver Opera, Palm Beach Opera, Glimmerglass Opera, Seattle Opera, and Arizona Opera; Don José in Carmen at Glimmerglass Opera, Opera Theatre of St. Louis, Florida Grand Opera, Arizona Opera, and Madison Opera; and Rodolfo in La bohème at Opera Omaha and Minnesota Opera.
Other international appearances include: Don José in Carmen at English National Opera, San Francisco Opera and at Opera Australia’s Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour; Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly with Opera Hong Kong, Lithuanian National Opera, The Savonlinna Opera Festival, and on tour in China at the Guangzhous Opera House among many others.
Luis Alejandro Orozcoas Featured Soloist
An El Paso Texas native, Mexican-American Baritone Luis Alejandro Orozco has been praised for his “voluminous baritone and beautiful legato.”
Mr. Orozco’s 2022-2023 season begins with Nashville Opera, singing Marcello in La bohème. Additionally, he returns to The Metropolitan Opera as a Flemish Deputy in Don Carlos. Last season included his Metropolitan Opera debut, singing the Prime Minister in their English version of Cendrillon. Last season he also curated and sang in a Hispanic Heritage Concert with Fort Worth Opera, followed by his debut with Virginia Opera as Marcello in a condensed La bohème. He then returned to Opéra de Lyon to remount Maria de Buenos Aires on their mainstage, singing El Payador, joined Intermountain Opera as the Count in Le nozze di Figaro, and appeared with Minnesota Opera in a gala concert.
During the 2020-2021 season, Luis Orozco made his Swiss debut as Riolobo in Florencia en el Amazonas with Theater St. Gallen, performed Escamillo in Carmen with Pensacola Opera, and joined the Nuits de Fourvière Festival to sing El Payador in Maria de Buenos Aires in collaboration with Opéra de Lyon.
Bizhou Changas Featured Soloist
Soprano Bizhou Chang is thrilled to return to Pensacola Opera to perform Mimì in La bohème this January. This season, Ms. Chang will return to Guerilla Opera for the concert presentation and theatrical workshop of Emily Koh’s Her: Alive|un|dead, perform as a featured performer in Pensacola Opera’s 40th Year Anniversary Gala Concert Forty Forward with Pensacola Symphony Orchestra, and make her company debuts as Liù in Turandot with Opera Southwest and Countess Almaviva in Le Nozze di Figaro with Knoxville Opera.
During 2021-2022 season, Ms. Chang made her role debut as Pamina in Die Zauberflöte with Pensacola Opera, performed the role of Maria in the world premiere of Island of Hope, Island of Tears by Gabriele Vanoni with Guerilla Opera, and Violetta in an immersive production of La Traviata with Opera Columbus and Out of the Box Opera.
During the Covid-19 impacted 2020-2021 season, Ms. Chang made her art film debut as Mimì in an innovative film version of La bohème directed by Laine Rettmer with More than Musical (Hong Kong), a co-production of Opera Omaha, Tri Cities Opera, and Opera Columbus, performed Mimì in a new production of La bohème with Opera Columbus, and returned to Pensacola Opera to sing Micaëla in Carmen.
Emily Trieboldas Featured Soloist
Mezzo-Soprano Emily Triebold is thrilled to be returning to the Pensacola Opera stage. Native to Wisconsin, Emily has been praised for her acting abilities in both dramatic and comedic roles.
While tenured as an Apprentice Artist with Des Moines Metro Opera, Emily covered the roles of Minskwoman (Flight) and Julia Child (Bon Appétit!) and played the roles Mrs. Splinters (The
Tender Land) and Baroness (Candide). As both a Resident Artist and Mainstage Artist with Pensacola Opera, she was seen in various concerts and performances, covering Hannah After
(As One) and Zerlina (Don Giovanni) and singing the roles of Ines (Il trovatore) and Mrs. Cripps (H.M.S. Pinafore). This past year, Emily sang Giovanna (Rigoletto) with Nashville Opera as a
Mary Ragland Emerging Artist and covered the role of Martha (Sky on Swings) as a Young Artist with Opera Saratoga.
Alexander Scheuermannas Featured Soloist
Praised for his sweet tone and nuanced stagecraft, tenor Alexander Scheuermann has been called “a performer’s performer,” appearing in both theatrical and concert settings across the US and Europe. Recent roles include the cover of Tim Laughlin in Fellow Travelers with Des Moines Metro Opera, Remendado in Carmen with Salt Marsh Opera, Marco in The Gondoliers with Winter Opera St. Louis, and Frederic in The Pirates of Penzance with Opera Tampa. He makes a role and company debut as Fenton in Falstaff with Raylynmor Opera in 2022. Alexander has been a resident artist with Pensacola Opera and Kentucky Opera, and holds degrees in voice from Florida State University and the University of Houston.
Justin Hopkinsas Featured Soloist
Bass-baritone Justin Hopkins is a young performer who enjoys an active career on opera’s national and international stages. As a member of Theater St Gallen (Switzerland), his most recent appearances have included SARASTRO (Magic Flute), TERRY (Breaking the Waves), and GRENVILLE (La Traviata), with guest engagements including his return to De Vlaamse Opera as COLLINE (La Boheme).
During the 2019-20 season, Justin was an ensemble member of Belgium’s Opera Vlaanderen, where he sang LORD KRISHNA, PARSI RUSTOMJI Satyagraha and LE BAILLI Werther. During the 2020-21 season, he joined the Geneva Opera where his roles included TITUREL Parsifal, GRENVILLE La Traviata and PUBLIO La Clemenza di Tito. Justin made his debut at the Glimmerglass Festival as JOE in Show Boat and sang DALAND Der Fliegende Holländer with Baltimore Concert Opera. Past engagements have included appearances with Opera Southwest, Opera San Antonio, Fort Worth Opera, Verbier Festival, La Monnaie, Opera Philadelphia, Pensacola Opera, Opera in the Heights, Opera Saratoga, Jazz at Lincoln Center, and Opera Delaware. Active on the concert stage, Justin has appeared with the Los Angeles Master Chorale at Walt Disney Hall, Boston Pops, Philly POPS, Grand Rapids Symphony Pops, Dayton Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, and the Leipzig Radio Symphony Orchestra.
Sheila Dunnas Featured Soloist
Dr. Sheila Dunn earned her Doctor of Music degree in vocal performance from the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music. Since joining UWF in 2007, she has taught applied voice, vocal literature, vocal pedagogy, opera workshop and Women in Popular Music. As part of the UWF Irish Experience study abroad program, she performs and presents masterclasses at the Royal Irish Academy of Music.
Her research areas include living and diverse composers of art song and portrayals of women in music of the Tin Pan Alley era. She maintains an active performing career in opera and as a concert artist and recitalist. Select roles include Kitty Hart (Dead Man Walking), Mabel (Pirates of Penzance), Beth (Little Women), Susanna (Le Nozze di Figaro), Costance (Les Dialogues des Carmélites), Blonda (Abduction from the Seraglio), Despina (Cosí fan tutte), and Johanna (Sweeney Todd). In 2019, she performed a solo concert as part of the Les Dimanches Musicaux concert series at The American Cathedral in Paris.
Dr. Dunn served from 2013-2022 as the director of the Dr. Grier Williams School of Music at the University of West Florida. The Williams School of Music was established in 2020 after receiving the largest cash gift from a living donor in the history of the university with a scholarship endowment that is estimated to be in excess of 7.5 million dollars. An additional $1M endowment will allow the school to fulfill its five-year plan and work toward achieving long-term goals. Dr. Dunn is thrilled to return to her faculty role as director of voice, and to enjoy more adventures and laughter with her loving family.
Corey McKernas Featured Soloist/Emcee
Award-winning baritone Corey McKern continuously earns critical acclaim and accolades in every appearance he makes. Of his performance as Figaro in Il barbiere di Siviglia, critics hailed: “Corey McKern… has all the goods to rise to star stature – timing, stamina, vocal heft and an easy-going stage presence – especially telling in Figaro’s signature aria, ‘Largo al factotum della citta.’” Recent engagements include the role of Older Thompson in Glory Denied with Opera Birmingham and performances as a soloist in Carmina Burana with Missoula Symphony, and Handel’s Messiah with the Alabama Symphony. Other engagements include Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with the Tallahassee Symphony and a return to the Florentine Opera for a concert of “Opera’s Greatest Hits.” Upcoming, Corey will return to Pensacola Opera as the title role in their production of Don Giovanni.
Of his performance in La bohème, the Santa Fe New Mexican said, “Corey McKern’s resolute, robust-voiced and rambunctious Marcello, a perfect picture of a wannabe Parisian painter, was one of the best I’ve ever heard.” Mr. McKern garners attention at leading opera houses for his charming and dynamic portrayals of his signature roles: Marcello in La bohème in his Asian début at Opera Hong Kong, Santa Fe Opera, Florentine Opera of Milwaukee, Nashville Opera, and Opera Grand Rapids; Figaro in Il barbiere di Siviglia with Nashville Opera and Opera Birmingham; the Count in Le nozze di Figaro with Nashville Opera, Opera Cleveland, Opera Columbus, Michigan Opera Theatre, Tulsa Opera, Opera Birmingham, and Syracuse Opera; Gabriel von Eisenstein in Die Fledermaus with Nashville Opera and Florentine Opera; Papageno in Die Zauberflöte with Opera Omaha, Arizona Opera, Opera Birmingham, and Tulsa Opera; as Silvio in Pagliacci with Austin Lyric Opera, Arizona Opera, Opera Birmingham, and Central City Opera.
Hayley Abramowitz*as Featured Soloist
Hayley Abramowitz, soprano, is dually based in Houston, TX and Washington, DC. They hold degrees from the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music (MM ’20, PD ’21) and from the University of Maryland School of Music (BM ’18), where they studied with Carol Vaness and Delores Ziegler respectively.
Hayley spent the 2021-22 season as a chorister with the Houston Grand Opera, performing in Carmen, Dialogues of the Carmelites, Die Zauberflöte, and Turandot. They also presented a recital as part of the Living Arts Concert Series, featuring Mozart’s rarely performed concert aria, Popoli di Tessaglia.
Favorite roles include Romilda (Serse), Nella (Gianni Schicchi), Blumenmädchen (Parsifal), Lucy (The Telephone), and Mme. Herz (Die Schauspieldirektor). A third-place winner in the inaugural Cincinnati SongSLAM, Hayley is also a passionate advocate of new music, having presented numerous premieres in the past several years. Particularly dear is William Kenlon’s Longfellow Mosaic for soprano and Pierrot ensemble.
Kayla Nanto*as Featured Soloist
Mezzo-Soprano Kayla Nanto is an emerging artist based in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. She is currently a Studio Artist with Fort Worth Opera, with whom she will sing the role of Flora in La traviata in April 2022. For the past four years, she has also been a Performing Artist with The Dallas Opera’s Outreach and Education Program.
This season, Kayla was a winner in the Colorado/Wyoming District of The Metropolitan Opera’s Laffont Competition. She will join Pensacola Opera as an Artist in Residence for their upcoming 2022-2023 season. Some of Kayla’s recent engagements include Second Witch in Dido and Aeneas and Eustazio in Rinaldo with American Baroque Opera Company, Alto soloist in Messiah with Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra, Frida Kahlo/Mother in the world-premiere of Frida Kahlo and the Bravest Girl in the World with Fort Worth Opera, Suzuki (cover) in Madama Butterfly with Opera Fort Collins, Ulisse in Achille in Sciro with Orchestra of New Spain, and Edith in Pirates of Penzance with Loveland Opera Theatre.
Kayla holds degrees from University of North Texas (Master of Music) and University of Northern Colorado (Bachelor of Music).
Randy Ho*as Featured Soloist
Complemented on his “affectionate vibrato” (OperaWire), tenor, Randy Ho is looking forward to joining the team at Pensacola Opera as an Artist in Residence. This season, Mr. Ho will be singing as Parpignol and covering Rodolfo (La bohème), and singing Enoch Snow (Carousel).
Born and raised in Denver, Colorado, Mr. Ho is a recent graduate of the Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins University. Mr. Ho holds a Bachelor of Music and a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration concentrating in Marketing from the University of Denver.
Most recently, Mr. Ho will be showcased in Pittsburgh Festival Opera’s scenes program singing excerpts from Faust, La Traviata, and Carmen. Previously, Mr. Ho has been featured as a studio artist at Carnegie Hall’s Song Studio led by world-renowned Soprano Renee Fleming, Peabody Opera Theater productions of La scala di seta (Dorvil), Hin und Zurück(Robert), Postcard from Morocco (Man with old Luggage), Lamont Opera Theater’s production of Il trittico (Rinuiccio), and as a soloist with The National Repertory Orchestra, Denver Opera Collective, and The Denver Spirituals Project.
Scott Lee*as Featured Soloist
A native of Statesville, North Carolina, baritone Scott Lee has been praised for his “…substance and velvety bass voice” by the Winston-Salem Journal. In recent years, he has performed with Piedmont Opera, The Princeton Festival, Opera Theater of the Rockies and Magnolia Baroque. In 2020, Lee received the Ron Payne Encouragement Award at the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions in Charlotte, NC. His most recent engagement was the role of Antonio in Donizetti’s Linda di Chamounix, where “the opportunity to experience a staging of Linda di Chamounix was a rare gift to UNCSA’s audiences, but singing such as Lee’s is still rarer not only in student production but upon all the worlds stages.” (Voix des Arts) Lee received his Bachelor of Music degree and Master of Music degree from UNCSA. In addition to performing, Lee is a seasoned teaching artist, having served as a member of UNCSA’s ArtistCorps. He is a student of Dr. Marylin Taylor.
Cody Martinas Conductor
Cody Martin was recently named Music Director at Pensacola Opera, where he has been the Director of Education and Director of the Artists in Residence Program since 2017. During the 2022-23 season, he leads the company’s first ever production of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Carousel, as well as sharing the podium for Forty Forward, a 40th anniversary gala concert. Recent seasons have seen Cody leading productions of Die Zauberflöte, Don Giovanni, As One, Florencia en el Amazonas, Man of La Mancha and María de Buenos Aires in Pensacola, as well as making his debut with Fargo-Moorhead Opera conducting Jake Heggie’s Three Decembers. He was on the music staff of Des Moines Metro Opera for three seasons, most recently serving as associate conductor for Rusalka. He previously worked on productions of A Little Night Music, Orphée et Eurydice, and Falstaff in Des Moines. He was on the music staff at Arizona Opera for two seasons, working most recently on productions of Rusalka, Madama Butterfly, Riders of the Purple Sage (world premiere), and La Cenerentola. Prior to that, he served on the music staff of the Janiec Opera Company at Brevard Music Center for three seasons, working as an assistant conductor and coach for productions of The Ballad of Baby Doe, Così fan tutte, Rigoletto, Sweeney Todd, Don Giovanni, and Albert Herring.
An avid proponent of new opera, Cody has worked on multiple premieres, including Arizona Opera’s first world premiere, Craig Bohmler’s Riders of the Purple Sage, with a libretto by Steven Mark Kohn; two workshops of The Copper Queen by Clint Borzoni, with a libretto by John de los Santos; a 2014 workshop of Robert Aldridge’s Sister Carrie, and the world premiere of Michael Ching’s Speed Dating Tonight! at Brevard Music Center.
Cody holds degrees from Murray State University and Florida State University.
Jerome Shannonas Conductor
Praised for his “skill and verve” (New York Times), Shannon celebrates nearly 30 years as a professional operatic pianist, vocal coach, conductor and administrator. During this time, Maestro Shannon has held leadership positions with Sarah Caldwell’s Opera Company of Boston (Artistic Administrator, Assistant Conductor, Conductor), Virginia Opera (Artistic Administrator, Associate Artistic Director, Conductor), Pensacola Opera (Music Director and Principal Conductor, Artistic Director), Shreveport Opera (Music Director and Principal Conductor), Mobile Opera (General and Artistic Director, Principal Conductor) and the Janiec Opera Company of the Brevard Music Center (Resident Conductor and Vocal Coach).
CONDUCTORS | Jerome Shannon & Cody Martin
EMCEE | Corey McKern
CHORUS DIRECTOR | Cody Martin
LIGHTING DESIGNER | TBD
REHEARSAL PIANIST | Nathan Cicero*
TECHNICAL DIRECTOR | TBD
* Pensacola Opera debut artist
Save the Date
Single Ticket Sales Open
July 5, 2022
When choosing your seats, keep in mind that this map is only an approximation and not exactly to scale. If you have specific seating needs or require accessible seating, you may contact the Box Office for more information. Please note that the price zones for Forty Forward are different than the regular season.
Numbers indicate price level
No stairs in the Orchestra Level
ADA accessible seating in rows V, BB, and DD
House left is even numbered
House right is odd numbered
Center is consecutively numbered
Numbers indicate price level
ADA accessible seating in the Loges
House left is even numbered
House right is odd numbered
Center is consecutively numbered